Playing the Hand You Are Dealt

Complex. Complicated. Unique. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard these 3 words in the last month…

Advertisements

Nagib & Munira Premji

Toronto, December 24, 2015.  Complex.  Complicated.  Unique.  If I had a dollar for every time I have heard these 3 words in the last month…

Every doctor and health professional I have seen has uttered these words several times as they review my case, examine me, discuss treatment options and share their concerns.  3 cancers within 3.5 years is rather unusual, particularly when there is no history of cancer in my immediate family.

This past Friday, we had a meeting with a Medical Oncologist at North York General Hospital, Dr. Danny Robson.  Curly, disheveled hair with an inquisitive demeanor, Dr. Robson quickly digested my medical history, cutting through the noise and focusing on the facts of my current situation.

We sat in the sterile hospital room, anxious to hear the results, clinging on to every word.   For any cancer patient, the worst word in the English language is “metastasis”.  It means that the cancer has spread from the initial site to another part of the body, making it nearly impossible to treat.  We were hoping that this was not the case for me.  Because if it was, it would be brutal news to accept.

Dr. Robson began: The bone scan showed regular degeneration consistent with the presence of multiple myeloma (which we expected).  The CT scan showed that the cancer had not spread to any other part of the body (beyond the one or two lymph nodes in my underarm). When we got this news, Shayne, Sabrina, Nagib and I took a collective sigh of relief — until then, we had not realized that we were holding our breath.

He then proposed a treatment plan. If I were not complex, complicated and unique, the plan would be 4 months of chemotherapy, a break for a month, surgery to remove the lump and some lymph nodes, followed by radiation – a “typical” approach for a diagnosis of early stage breast cancer.

Dr. Robson, however, expressed concern that chemotherapy would wear down my bone marrow and compromise my ability to deal with the multiple myeloma, including jeopardizing the second stem cell transplant that I will eventually need when the myeloma comes back.

In his view, I should have the surgery first and then, based on the outcome of the surgery, the medical team will determine the need, benefit and downstream implications of additional treatments, such as hormone therapy, radiation and, if necessary, chemotherapy. Dr. Tiedemann, with the support of the Breast Cancer team at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, is weighing in on the decision making process (a second opinion of sorts), which gives me a lot of comfort.  We hope to confirm the plan and begin prepping for treatment at my next appointment on December 29th at North York General Hospital.

As the Premji clan debriefed the hospital visit over breakfast and discussed our thoughts and fears openly, Sabrina equated my situation over the past few years to the weather system: most days have been delightfully sunny; others, cloudy with scattered showers. And even when we have been in the trenches, battling the thundershowers, the sun always found a way to peek through and clear the rain. My latest diagnosis of breast cancer means a rainstorm is in the forecast. Rather than fighting it or complaining about it, we’re all going to pull up our rain boots, get out our umbrellas and face the storm…and knowing us, we’ll probably splash in a few puddles and sing in the rain along the way! Because we know, the sun will come soon. It always does.

Merry Christmas everybody!  Wishing you a very happy and extremely healthy holiday season.

-Munira 

19 thoughts on “Playing the Hand You Are Dealt”

  1. Munira in my mind you are wearing the most colourful, most effective and most brilliant rain boots in the universe. Full of light and love and the most powerful and beautiful energy ever known.
    Xooooooo

  2. Dearest Mmaa Munira,
    Keep up with your positive energy and by the grace of Almighty, may your journey to recovery be successful with flying colours!!!
    Best of luck and happiness to you and your entire family.

  3. Dear Munira. Keeping you and family in prayers. May you always be guided and protected. God bless, always.

    Heartfelt best wishes.

    K. Amersi –Vancouver

  4. Dear Munira – it’s Christmas Eve and we just sat down to relax. I am reading this and not quite sure what to say. I know we only had a short time to work together but you are one of the kindest and strongest person I have ever met. I want you to know that I will be keeping you in my prayers that God will heal you. Merry Christmas. Jackie

  5. Munira ,
    May the rain showers be brief and may the sunshine often. May the umbrella of your amazing faith and spirit shield you from the thunderstorms.
    Walking with you in spirit on this new journey.

  6. i think for those that are blessed so far with good health will think of your inspirational attitude should they ever encounter a medical battle, be it cancer or any other life-altering condition. Thank you for sharing your stories. Merry Christmas to the Premji family.

  7. My prayers are with you. Your strength is admirable and knowing you, yes, definitely splash and jump in all the puddles along the way!

  8. Dear Munira and Nagib, my prayers and wishes of love are with you and the family. Thank you for all that you are so willing to share, and your unswerving optimism, it is a tonic to us all. xxooo

  9. We still can’t believe but are praying hard that this challenge too will be conquered. Wishing you and your family peace and hope, strength, love and laughter in the new year.
    Lynda and Dave

  10. In my mind, I actually saw the four of you geared in boots and umbrellas, splashing in puddles and singing in the rain! What a beautiful metaphor to describe your family’s way of handling just about anything thrown your way! I am so happy to hear that everything is under Munira’s control. All my very best to a happy healthy 2016 to come!

  11. My Dear Munira, remember, after every downpour, out comes the rainbow and lights up everyone’s heart with its brilliant colours! The sun comes out and the earth feels fresh and alive…this will pass and you will come out feeling stronger than before! All the very best for a happy and healthy year to come! I hope it brings you all the things you wish for….God Bless…xoxo

  12. Munira – you are an amazing survivor and your are an inspiration to all. We who complain about little things should learn from you the attitude to life and the submission to the universe for all it sends us. Our prayers are with you that you go from strength to strength, that the miracle of life is with you and that cancer can be beaten.

  13. We admire your strength, courage and attitude.
    We also know how it feels when you are waiting for the results of the tests.
    IN Farida’s case it was grade one so they did the lumpactomy first and then decided to give her radiation only. (18 sessions) it has been eight years.
    God bless.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s